Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stress Tax.

I try to do so much (like three summer college courses) and excel as a wife and caregiver. I try to do all of that and travel with Aaron so he can explore incredible recreational therapy opportunities. I try to do it all and by not addressing how hard this is I think I am focusing on how much we have and how hard it really isn't (it is hard). I think that if I acknowledge that this life, even with its blessing, is incredibly stressful then I'm dishonoring all the people who do this life with more complications. I'm just going to act like everything's normal and okay!

And I fail at something, inevitably. I of course can't preemptively ask for help because that would mean I understood what I was doing to myself in the first place. Now I'm groveling with one professor, but at least that class is all I have managed to really screw up. My other two classes are okay, and I've been kicking butt at the wife/caregiver work. So I didn't crash and burn at everything, but just burned up a little bit.

But I'm fucking exhausted, people. My brain never fully turns on. I never actually get to sleep. I wake up everyday with back pain and a right elbow and wrist that doesn't want to help me work on the computer. I am so tired and sometimes I don't know why, because I think I got to sleep. I get distracted easily, and I can't seem to get motivated. At all. It sounds like depression but I'm not depressed right now. I mean, I've always got this little black cloud (and there is actually a technical name for that) all the time and I'm pretty much a realist (no sunshine and rainbows here, just give me the damn truth). But I am honestly happy with my marriage and the work I've been doing.

So, after seeing my counselor and doing some serious self-reflection, I realized that my body is stressed. I am physically affected by all of this, and not just because I literally carry more things than most husbands do. My whole body is responding to all of this and I haven't yet taken what that can do to me into account. I just need to suck it up and push harder, right? People do this warrior life with kids. Aaron nor myself have debilitating mental health or brain injuries, so there is no reason why I can't just do this already!

But I'm being too hard on myself and I'm admitting it. Next semester, I'm taking fewer classes. I am taking more time out of my day to stretch my body, work my mind, and relax. I just need to admit that I am not failing by not doing it all. I need to stop minimizing myself, my mental health, my reactions, and ultimately my life. My house is clean, some school work is done, and Aaron is happy as a pig in mud with what I do with and for him. He doesn't mind it when I breakdown at a meeting where we find out that the wheelchair clinic has yet again messed up and he won't be getting what he needs in any fashion of a timely manner (that happened today, by the way). I am getting better at recovering from those incidents, too. It doesn't knock me out all afternoon after I cry.

I realized how to improve: I can't completely change something in a moment. I have to ease into it. Do this a little less every week, and eventually I will have totally changed a behavior.

My ultimate goal is to focus on my abilities and not my limitations. I am also going to immerse myself in brain exercises and the book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain. I think I need to try new things and reinvent my goals a little bit. I know it looks like a very strange way to deal with my stress, but I think it's going to work for me. New stuff. New successes. Focus on my health and get back to a chiropractor. Work my creativity more. Keep breathing. Keep improving, little by little. And give myself more time to do this. Also, I will actually go to the doctor and address my right arm issue. I am not getting any younger, and I can't keep wrapping my wrist in Coban to deal with the pain when I know I'm not doing anything to realistically make it better.

So there you have it, folks. I tried to do it all and pretend that this life wasn't such a big deal. I wanted to push on with normalcy because I'm so grateful for all we have. I would feel lazy if I didn't sign up for classes and do other things when Aaron doesn't need me. I am not a super human, at least not all the time. I feel like I can do anything- and I mean that, I could dig myself to China if it would make our situation any better- but that doesn't mean I have to do everything. I am a resilient woman and I have nothing to prove. I need to accept that it's okay to give my mental health more room in my life. I tell other people to do it- why don't I? I am unrelenting on myself. And it's time to stop.

Thanks for listening, kids. I hope you're all having good weeks!


  1. I'm sure that whatever your situation is, somebody somewhere out there could see it and raise you a circumstance that's even more difficult. But you're right; that doesn't mean you have to power through and keep pushing harder every minute of every day.

    I think about the statistic that says that only about one percent of Americans ever serve in the military. And you and Aaron are navigating a life that most in the one percent will never experience. So I, for one, admire your determination, your self-awareness, your drive to remain positive, and most of all your admission that your new normal does NOT match that of most people, that it can be tough, and that you need to show yourself more TLC.

    Funny how it's easy to give that advice to others but so hard to take yourself, huh? Most of us really are our own worst critics and harshest taskmasters.

  2. Yes and yes and yes. Take care of yourself first so you can take care of the rest of the world -- and it sounds like you're well on the way to doing that.